Thursday, 2 September 2021
Matters of Public Importance
COVID-19: Morrison Government
I look at the subject of this MPI today and I think it's probably a dorothy dixer: 'The failure of the government to plan through and beyond the pandemic.' I'd like to inform the House that we have a great plan for the pandemic. It's a plan to subdue, to suppress, the virus and then get back to normal. I tell you why it's a great plan. It's a great plan because it changes when the circumstances change, so it's adaptable. Every time something changes, you need to go back to the basics and make the necessary changes. As technology changes, as the virus changes, as indeed the capacity to produce vaccine changes, so too does the program.
I might point out that it's worth remembering the first dose of a mass COVID-19 vaccination plan in the world was administered on 8 December last year, not quite nine months ago. The vaccination program, when you put it in perspective, is now going like a rocket. It's a little behind time and had a bit of a rocky start, it would be fair to say. We had interrupted supply and we had changing official views on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which introduced hesitancy. But now we're about two months behind, by my reckoning. We know that 20 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in Australia, with greater than 60 per cent of the population having now received their first dose. We are within range of the 70 per cent target, and when four million more doses have been administered we'll reach 80 per cent, which are the figures that are nominated by the Doherty institute. We're closing in on 30 per cent of the population having had two doses. In New South Wales, the figures are 70 and 35 per cent respectively, so it's really picking up speed and it's making a difference.
We have a plan that has been backed up by the work of the Doherty institute, a world renowned institute. They're focusing on those two numbers, 70 per cent and 80 per cent respectively, when we will get rid of the state restrictions on the borders and then get rid of the lockdowns within communities, except in extreme circumstances. It's a good plan and it's been good for the economy. The performance of Australian economy through the pandemic has been simply extraordinary. We're down to 4.6 per cent unemployment and the GDP is 1.7 per cent bigger now than it was before the pandemic. Today's motion talks about through the pandemic and beyond. I've got to tell you, we've got plans for that as well. If I look at my electorate, I've got over a billion dollars of Commonwealth expenditure either underway or in the pipeline for the upgrading of our road network. We've established a national space agency. I would've thought that that's about tomorrow and beyond the pandemic. The Space Agency is in South Australia. In fact, it's at Lot Fourteen, on North Terrace in Adelaide. In my own electorate, Southern Launch has just received approval from the authorities in the last week to launch three rockets towards the end of the year from their new launch facility at Whalers Way, south of Port Lincoln. We have great hopes that this will lead to hundreds of jobs in our regional footprint.
We are backing hydrogen production in Australia and the move to green hydrogen. We have a plan. This government has a plan for green steel. I have 40 per cent of Australia's steel production in one of my cities, Whyalla. Green steel is a great way forward.
We are backing families and women by increasing the support for child care. Eight-five per cent of your payment will be met if you're under the $75,000 threshold as of July next year. That's a great outcome. That's talking about the future. That's about getting women with skills into our workforce, because we need them.
We're providing support from ARENA for electric car-charging stations—support which, at this stage, is being denied by the Labor party, can you believe! They've voted against it twice. We have a plan to deliver zero emissions as soon as we possibly can—hopefully, before 2050. But we are not going to do it by knocking off Australia's economy. At the moment we're making great progress, with a 20.8 per cent reduction from 2005. I looked at the OECD. There are 38 countries in the OECD. Twelve have gone up in that period, and we've gone down by 20.8 per cent. We're making great headway. We've got a great plan, and we will have a great future here in Australia.